New Jersey’s small towns are home to some of the state’s biggest culinary gems. There are many smaller neighborhoods with thriving food scenes that can’t be missed. We all know about the spectacular restaurants in big cities like Jersey City, New Brunswick and Cherry Hill, but you might not be aware of the foodie heaven that awaits in the following small (populations under 20,000) towns.
1. Maple Shade
This town of just under 20,000 in Burlington County is home to the incredible Yokohama Sushi and Hibatchi Restaurant. Traditional Japanese cuisine with a modern twist, this local hotspot is a top-rated favorite. Other great places to check out include Maritsa's Cuisine, offering your favorite comfort foods, Iron Hill Brewery, and Montegrillo Cucina Italiana.
This charming town has several spectacular restaurants, many right on Main Street. Locals and visitors alike love Osteria Trevi, Slamwich Scratch Kitchen, Urban Fire, Redux, Blue Wazabi and Takuma Japanese Restaurant. Redux is the new kid on the block, having just opened in September. They serve truly unique modern American small plates.
Known for having a wonderful downtown, you won't want to miss the dining here. The British Chip Shop is always a fun stop, and Fuji Japanese has fantastic Tuna Guacamole. Other great places include Da Soli, Mediterranean Cafe, and Marie's Sandwich Bar.
This stunningly beautiful small town is known for its often photographed Red Mill, but has some great restaurants, as well. Clinton Station Diner is a unique dining experience, offering the opportunity to dine in a restored train car; they are also popular for their massive burgers. If 50-pound burgers aren't your thing, visit the Clean Plate Kitchen; they offer the finest fresh, locally sourced foods.
Home to historic Waterloo Village, Stanhope also offers some awesome eateries. Head to the Black Forest Inn for authentic German cuisine or Salt Gastropub for delicious cuisine, brews, and live music. Also check out Shakey Jake's and their unique decor or The Stanhope House for dinner and a show.
This shore town offers fresh seafood along with other delicious dining options. Crab Shack, Pirate's Den, Hooper's Seafood Cafe, Macedonian Grill and Mad Dog Morgans are all great options. Be sure to check out Mad Dog's famous cheesesteak and the breakfast dishes at Pirate's Den.
7. Red Bank
This trendy town has quite the food scene. There are so many great places to dine, it's difficult to just name a few. Some of the more popular and top rated spots include Cafe 28, The Cheese Cave, JBJ Soul Kitchen, Good Karma Cafe and Zoni's Coal Fired Pizza. The Cheese Cave also offers special tastings and lectures.
This Ivy League college town offers more than a great education. Dining options range from casual spots to fine cuisine, and every restaurant is unique. infini-T Café and Spice Souk is an ideal pick for vegetarians, Blue Point Grill has sublime seafood, Mistral offers tempting tapas, and Hoagie Haven serves up delicious hoagies. For upscale fare, consider the Peacock Inn, or head to one of the local coffee joints for a quick java fix - Halo Pub, Rojo's Roastery or Small World Coffee.
This Sussex County town is home to 4Chicks Cafe, a lovely breakfast spot with delicious desserts, Selda Mediterranean Grill, which maintains a 5-star review on Yelp, and the unique Hummingbird House. A new spot on the scene worth trying is The Barrel House, offering American classics.
10. Cape May/North Cape May
People flock here in the summer months, but the food is delicious year-round. Check out 5 West Pub, Vincenzo’s Little Italy II, Uncle Bill's Pancake House, Hot Dog Tommy's, Washington Inn and Union Park Dining Room. Some of these spots are seasonal, so be sure to call and check. All are worth a try, and Washington Inn is a top-ranked restaurant nationally on OpenTable.
From art to dining, you can find almost anything in Lambertville!
to see my previous post featuring all of the town's attractions and hottest restaurants.
This small town on the Hudson River is just across from the big city, but can hold its own when it comes to delicious dining. While it's no New York, you definitely won't leave disappointed. Popular choices include Brownstone Pancake Factory, Mamaris Cafe, Rebecca's, HAVEN Riverfront Restaurant & Bar, and Santouka Ramen. Brownstone was featured on the Food Network and HAVEN provides incredible food and incredible views.
For a romantic dinner, head to The Bernards Inn; for a more casual atmosphere, visit The Claremont Tavern. Bistro Seven Three is another favorite, and you can't miss Penguin Ice Cream for dessert.
14. Asbury Park
Travel + Leisure Magazine recently ranked Asbury Park as one of the top travel destinations in the world. It certainly does have a lot to offer, and has been revitalized in recent years. Bond Street Bar & Grill and The Speakeatery are both fantastic dining choices. Also popular is MOGO Korean Fusion Tacos. For a quick slice, head to Talula's, followed by Cookman Creamery for dessert.
Park Avenue is home to delectable dining options including Cafe Matisse, Greek Town Gyros, Azteca Restaurante, Boom Boom Chicken, and Rutherford Pancake House. Bergen Burger, on Glen Road, is also a favorite.
16. Ocean City
Atlantic City is a foodie paradise, but nearby Ocean City offers fantastic dining as well. Head to Hula Grill for Hawaiian-inspired dishes, Manco & Manco for the perfect pie, or OC Surf Cafe for brunch. Bennie's Bread and Voltaco's are other local favorites.
Are there any other restaurants in these towns that you would recommend? What other towns would you add to this list?